Draftageddon 2016: The Norfleet Clone Army

Submitted by Seth on July 19th, 2016 at 10:08 AM

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We are drafting Big Ten teams because the one sure way to get us to do our homework on in-conference players is to make it a competition and rip on each other.

Previously on Draftageddon:

  1. A Heisman candidate QB and the reigning Thorpe winner go after two members of Michigan's secondary. (Peppers, Lewis, & Butt)

  2. An underwhelming first swing through receivers, and lots of linemen. (Chesson, Cole, Wormley, Glasgow)

  3. A Michigan second-teamer goes before Purdue-Matt Godin. (Charlton, Hurst)

  4. Hodor.

How things stand:

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If we hadn't taken the entire first team of Ohio State and Michigan State last year we'd be homers.

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ACE: Round 9, Pick 1: Jalen Myrick, cornerback, Minnesota

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[Patrick Barron]

OFFENSE: QB CJ Beathard (IA), RB Saquon Barkley (PSU), WR Jehu Chesson (M), OG Jacob Bailey (IU), WEAPON Jabrill Peppers (M)

DEFENSE: NT Ryan Glasgow (M), DT Jake Replogle (PU), DE Sam Hubbard (OSU), OLB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers (M), CB Jalen Myrick (MN)

SPECIAL TEAMS: KR Jabrill Peppers (M), PR Jabrill Peppers (M)

We’re starting to reach the end of the guys who graded out really well on PFF, but we’re not quite there yet. Jalen Myrick has been overshadowed in Minnesota’s secondary by Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun, but with both of those guys off to the NFL, he’s set to break out this year. In fact, he graded out better than both of them last year, when he managed to push his way into the starting lineup for seven games and would’ve played more if injury hadn’t cut short his season:

Myrick ranked ninth nationally in our cornerback grades through week nine, until a rib and lung injury knocked him out of the Ohio State game in week ten and prematurely ended his regular season. Opposing QBs had a NFL rating of 34.8 on targets thrown his way, ranking him third among all returning CBs with at least 250 coverage snaps in 2015. His deep speed and ability to play the ball in the air made him an effective defender downfield, and as long as he maintains his health this year he should be one of the Big Ten’s best at his position.

In addition to strong ball skills, Myrick has great top-end speed, and he’s a tough SOB:

Myrick's breakout 2015 season hit a speed bump because of a freak injury at Ohio State on Nov. 15. While being tackled on the opening kickoff of that game, he suffered a collapsed lung. The injury forced him to stay in a Columbus hospital for two days and be driven back to Minneapolis. But say this about his toughness: Myrick played most of the first half with one working lung, believing at first he only had a back spasm.

JESUS. That article also mentions Myrick played so well last year that the coaches stopped shadowing the opponent’s top receiver with Murray (a fourth-round pick this year); they felt they had two legit #1 corners. He’s also a very capable kickoff returner—he had a 100-yard touchdown against Northwestern in 2014 on which he showed off some serious wheels. I had Myrick above Likely on my draft board—definitive, I know—and I’m quite pleased he fell to me here.

[After the jump: cornerbacks we wouldn't take before Will Likely, a few offensive steals, and a true freshman you can probably guess which]

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ADAM: Round 9, Pick 2: Matthew Harris, CB, Northwestern

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[Bryan Fuller]

Offense: Pat Elflein (C/OG-OSU), Dan Feeney (OG-Indiana), Amara Darboh (WR-Michigan

Defense: Jourdan Lewis (CB-Michigan), Dawuane Smoot (DE-Illinois), Taco Charlton (DE-Michigan), Maurice Hurst (DT-Michigan), Vince Biegel (OLB-Wisconsin), Matthew Harris (CB-Northwestern)

If any of these pass rushers I've drafted are going to get home then I'll need to make passing to either side a really bad decision, and that's what Matthew Harris does with regularity. Harris had a team-high four interceptions along with 13 PBUs in 2015, a season in which Harris played well enough for the coaching staff to stop exclusively using Nick VanHoose to shadow the opponent's best receiver. His PBU and interception numbers were good enough for third in the Big Ten in each category, though other corners around the conference ended up with the postseason awards you might expect from such a performance; of the awards issued by traditional outlets, he was named to just the All-Big Ten third team.

PFF took notice, however, naming him to their All-Big Ten second team and the no. 7 corner in the nation.

Harris is putting together a strong finish to the season, grading out as the second-best cornerback in the nation over the last three games (+7.2). For the year, he has the fourth-highest coverage grade (+13.8) and has intercepted three passes, refusing to give up a single touchdown in the nine games he’s played.

And that was written before he finished with an interception and PBU against Illinois and a PBU in NU's bowl game against Tennessee; Illinois threw for 5.8 yards per attempt and Tennessee 6.4 in those games. The coverage grade is what sold me on Harris, but I won't complain if he continues to rack up flashier stats (for a CB, at least) as well.

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SETH: Round 9, Pick 3: Simmie Cobbs, wide receiver, Indiana

Offense: QB JT Barrett (OSU), WR Chris Godwin (PSU), WR Simmie Cobbs (IN), OL Mason Cole (M), OL Sean Welsh (IOWA)

Defense: NT Bryan Mone (M), DT Darius Hamilton (RU), LB Nyeem Wartman-White (PSU), CB Desmond King (IOWA)

Special Teams: KR/PR Des King

If we're already digging into Indiana lineman who look good against 1-tech Tom Strobel it's only a matter of time before somebody unearths, you know, the non-offensive lineman star on Indiana's offense. That is 6'4 junior Simmie Cobbs, who joined just Aaron Burbridge and my other receiver in cracking the 1,000 yard barrier last year.

The 6'4 true sophomore did the bulk of that in the second half of the season, highlighted by 190 yards in Will Likely's face:

You'll note a lot of early Funchess with that ridiculous catching radius from the slot, plus a very non-Funchess asset: blocking, which Simmie seems to enjoy nearly as much as sharp comebacks against terrified corners and making them whiff on his orbital step after.

With a full season as alpha receiver and ballistic 6'6" JUCO transfer Richard Lagow set to take over at quarterback (at least I think that's what Kevin Wilson hinted to me when I cornered him at SMSB), Cobbs is a fair bet to pace the conference this year and head to the NFL the next.

If you're into trial stats, Bill C is still playing around with RYPR, which seems to do a pretty good job of identifying receivers who had a good year relative to QB play and whatnot. Last year's top 5 in the Big Ten were, in order, Burbridge, Godwin, Alex Erickson, Cobbs, and Chesson.

I worried Cobbs was going to disappear right after I took Godwin. Now JT has two unfair weapons to punish safeties who try to step up, and that extra downfield blocking will come in handy when those defenders do something silly like leaving the box.

Also I would seriously like to know who's doing Wilson's receiver scouting.

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BRIAN: Round 9, Pick 4: Tyquan Lewis, DE, OSU

O: TE Jake Butt(M), WR Jordan Westerkamp (NEB)
D: DE Chris Wormley(M), DT Malik McDowell(MSU). LB Raekwon McMillan (OSU), LB Anthony Walker (NW), CB Gareon Conley(OSU), CB Will Likely (MD).

I hate you idiots.

I guess Ace gets a slight pass since he took Hubbard. The rest of you ignoring Buckeyes to take wide receivers with a 55% catch rate and dudes returning from brutal year-long injuries and freaking interior linemen can go to hell. Because I gotta take the dude who led Ohio State in sacks last year over a guy named Joey Bosa.

As a true sophomore, Tyquan Lewis had eight sacks, 14 TFLs, and did this despite playing much of the year with a torn labrum. PFF had him around +11 for the year and credited him with 26 pressures. With Hubbard on the other side opponents won't be able to pay him excessive attention, and since he's entering just his third year in college he has considerable upside left to reach.

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BRIAN: Round 10, Pick 1: Rashan Gary DE, Michigan

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O: TE Jake Butt(M), WR Jordan Westerkamp (NEB)
D: DE Tyquan Lewis(OSU), DE Rashan Gary(M), DT Chris Wormley(M), DT Malik McDowell(MSU). LB Raekwon McMillan (OSU), LB Anthony Walker (NW), CB Gareon Conley(OSU), CB Will Likely (MD).

Ah, hell. LEZZGO.

Sam Webb reports that Michigan's plan this fall is to start(!) Gary with Hurst backing up Wormley at three tech. Jadeveon Clowney had 8 sacks and 12 TFLs en route to second-team All SEC status as a freshman. Triple those numbers and you're looking at Rashan Gary's freshman year.

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SETH: Round 10, Pick 2: Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin

Offense: QB JT Barrett (OSU), RB Corey Clement (WI), WR Chris Godwin (PSU), WR Simmie Cobbs (IN), OL Mason Cole (M), OL Sean Welsh (IOWA)

Defense: NT Bryan Mone (M), DT Darius Hamilton (RU), LB Nyeem Wartman-White (PSU), CB Desmond King (IOWA)

Special Teams: KR/PR Des King

For the third year in a row I can't let Corey go. After his freshman season I saw Melvin Gordon's backup doing most of the things Gordon used to do behind White and White used to do behind Ball, and Ball behind Clay...yada yada yada Ron Dayne. In 2014 that worked out for 949 yards (6.5 ypc) and 9 TDs plus another 119 yards as a screen target behind Gordon, and looked for all the world like the running back train would continue through the Chryst era.

That lasted 8 snaps against Alabama before Clement was sidelined by a sports hernia. Clement tried playing with it starting in late October, but he tweaked it again while putting 10.5 YPC on Rutgers and wasn't the same after, getting just 29 snaps against Northwestern and USC. In his absence, the Wisconsin rushing machine that hadn't averaged less than 5 YPC (sacks removed) since 2006 sputtered.

This year Clement has switched to #24 and adopted the same focus regimen that Joey Bosa used. MGoShutterbug Patrick Barron was at their spring game and confirmed the obvious: Clement is the man.

Patrick also noted a mean stiff-arm and that they had to whistle Clement's carries dead because nobody (Biegel included) could tackle him. Add that to the same combo of ridiculous acceleration, cuts, catching, breakaway speed, and most importantly vision that made him a Heisman contender going into last year and this is a steal at Pick 42. The bad year gave us all pause, but the upshot is one of the nation's top running backs in a ridiculous year for running backs.

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ADAM: Round 10, Pick 3: Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern

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[Eric Upchurch]

Offense: Pat Elflein (C/OG-OSU), Dan Feeney (OG-Indiana), Amara Darboh (WR-Michigan), Justin Jackson (RB-Northwestern)

Defense: Jourdan Lewis (CB-Michigan), Dawuane Smoot (DE-Illinois), Taco Charlton (DE-Michigan), Maurice Hurst (DT-Michigan), Vince Biegel (OLB-Wisconsin), Matthew Harris (CB-Northwestern)

Devine Redding will be running behind a better offensive line, but Justin Jackson—who continues the "we take the guys we take every year" theme—put up more yards per carry and a better Opportunity Rate en route to over 1,400 yards and second-team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore.

A quick note on Opportunity Rate: Bill Connelly of Football Study Hall has attempted to find a way to measure a running back's production beyond what his offensive line gets for him; the first four yards are credited to the line in his system, so Opportunity Rate is how often a back ran for five or more yards. 33.2% of Jackson's runs met the criteria. Of returning backs, Jackson outpaces just about everyone in the Big Ten not wearing a Michigan State uniform, and Jackson got almost three times the carries each of State's RBs did thanks to their by-committee usage last season.

Redding's Highlight Yards Per Opportunity, which looks at how many yards are credited to the back per 5+-yard carry, was indeed better than Jackson's in 2015. Jackson, however, had nearly 5% more of his carries go for more than five yards; Redding breaks big runs but does it rarely, whereas Jackson picks up fair chunks of yardage more often.

Though Michigan fans may remember Jackson finishing with just 25 yards on 12 carries in the Big House, he closed the regular season with four straight 100+-yard games, including 186 yards on 28 carries against Penn State's 39th ranked Rushing S&P+ defense and 139 yards on 35 carries against Wisconsin's 14th ranked Rushing S&P+ defense.

He's a workhorse despite being just 5'11 and 190 pounds, and I'm perfectly fine with him hovering around 4 YPC against good run defenses because of the upside his speed, vision, and athleticism lend him.

Jackson's productivity is even more impressive considering Northwestern's offensive line was riddled with injuries and just not very good in 2015; they finished 84th in adjusted line yards and 89th in stuff rate. If they find a starting five that can play a few games together without someone getting hurt, and if Clayton Thorson can do something crazy like throw for more than 4 yards per attempt, then Jackson should have an even better 2016 season.

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ACE: Round 10, Pick 4: Josey Jewell, ILB, Iowa

Round 11, Pick 1: George Kittle, TE, Iowa

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OFFENSE: QB CJ Beathard (IA), RB Saquon Barkley (PSU), WR Jehu Chesson (M), TE George Kittle (IA), OG Jacob Bailey (IU), WEAPON Jabrill Peppers (M)

DEFENSE: NT Ryan Glasgow (M), DT Jake Replogle (PU), DE Sam Hubbard (OSU), ILB Josey Jewell (IA), OLB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers (M), CB Jalen Myrick (MN)

SPECIAL TEAMS: KR Jabrill Peppers (M), PR Jabrill Peppers (M)

Josey Jewell has the tackling numbers you’d expect from a run-stuffing middle linebacker; he paced the Hawkeyes with 126—including 62 solo stops and 7.5 TFLs—as a redshirt sophomore in 2015. He brings a lot more to the table, too. PFF gives him the highest grade of any returning Big Ten linebacker in large part because of his coverage:

Jewell has great closing speed, which is apparent against the run and on blitzes. He’s earned the nickname “The Outlaw” and the approval of a Hawkeye legend:

Certainly there are a lot of people in Iowa that agree with that assessment, including another Hawkeye who wore No. 43 — former first-team all-American Pat Angerer.

During the Big Ten Conference championship game Dec. 5, in which Jewell intercepted Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook and recorded eight of his 119 season tackles, Angerer tweeted: “Best 43 in Iowa history #TheOutlaw” — the hashtag ending a reference to Jewell’s nickname.

In a solid year for Big Ten ILBs, Jewell gets the nod after Raekwon McMillan and Anthony Walker because of his complete set of skills—I can keep him at MIKE to strengthen the pass defense or slide him out to WILL, where he got time as a redshirt freshman, if I prefer adding a run-stuffer. CBS has him as the #4 ILB prospect for the 2018 draft.

George Kittle was “by far” the top run-blocker at tight end in the Big Ten last year according to PFF, which graded Kittle as the conference’s top TE despite him playing behind starter Henry Krieger Coble:

Not included in the list of high-snap returnees is TE George Kittle, who despite only 383 snaps posted the second-highest grade of returning TEs in FBS. While he was used primarily (and effectively) as a run blocker, he turned 25 targets into 20 catches (just one drop) and six touchdowns, and his 3.09 yards per route run ranked No. 1 in the country for all TEs in FBS last year.

No, I wouldn’t take Kittle over Jake Butt—PFF appears to weigh blocking quite heavily in their grading. He’s still remarkably efficient and should see his role grow substantially now that he takes over full time for Coble. Iowa leans hard on their TE in the passing game—I’d expect Kittle to at least match Coble’s 50 targets from last year—and he was already their go-to red zone threat, leading the team with six receiving TDs. It’s not hard to see why he’s so efficient with his targets; put the ball in his general area and there’s a good chance he’s coming down with it:

Kittle is a major plus on both the run and the pass, and in today’s era of the flex TE that’s not easy to find.

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Seth: It was too much to hope Kittle would stick through the turn.

Brian: You guys are not factoring in the philistine nature of the readership. Kittle might as well be a doorstop to them. I'm drafting five slot receivers for my OL.

Adam: Wow, I didn't think the Norfleet clone army would be ready by fall.

Smoothitron:

10.4

Seth: If that wasn't a terrifying offensive line already, throwing bits of ref appendages and torso into the gaps really keeps the DL sitting back.

Adam: I'm taking Brandon Reilly. I'll write it up in a bit.

Seth: Adam now courting the GPA Matters corps.

Adam: Looking for success on the field, in the classroom, and in the community

Seth:

Adam: Just don't google him more than you already have or that community thing is gonna blow up in my face


ADAM: Round 11, Pick 2: Brandon Reilly, WR, Nebraska

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Offense: Pat Elflein (C/OG-OSU), Dan Feeney (OG-Indiana), Amara Darboh (WR-Michigan), Justin Jackson (RB-Northwestern), Brandon Reilly (WR-Nebraska)

Defense: Jourdan Lewis (CB-Michigan), Dawuane Smoot (DE-Illinois), Taco Charlton (DE-Michigan), Maurice Hurst (DT-Michigan), Vince Biegel (OLB-Wisconsin), Matthew Harris (CB-Northwestern)

I've been looking for a guy who can take the top off a secondary on the off chance Darboh doesn't add that rumored extra dimension to his game, and I think I've found him in Reilly. Last season Reilly averaged 11.1 yards per target on about 16% of Nebraska's passes; he caught 58.8% of the balls thrown his way. Per the school's website:

Reilly had eight receptions of at least 30 yards in his junior season, highlighted by a 30-yard game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against Michigan State. Reilly's 18.9-yard per catch average ranked sixth in the nation and first in the Big Ten among players with at least 40 receptions.

A game-winning touchdown catch against Michigan State, you say? I think I remember it, but I guess we should watch it again.

That's just a wily veteran shrewdly assessing the situation and acting accordingly. And to think Seth made fun of Reilly being named Academic All-Big  Ten three times.

In all seriousness, Reilly's not going to catch everything thrown his way but he's fast enough to burn most of the conference's secondaries. Seth mentioned RYPR earlier; it's a Bill Connelly stat that sort of lumps together all the ways to evaluate receivers into one mega-stat. Reilly's the last of the Big Ten receivers on my board who was in the top 100. He also graded out well in PFF's evaluations last season, finishing the year with an overall double-digit net positive grade. Nebraska's the only team in the Big Ten returning a receiving corps with more than one player who finished with a double-digit positive grade, and with Tommy Armstrong Jr. back in the fold Reilly's stats shouldn't dip.

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SETH: Round 11, Pick 3: Billy Price, OG, Ohio State

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Offense: JT Barrett (QB-OSU), Corey Clement (RB-Wis), Chris Godwin (WR-PSU), Simmie Cobbs (WR-IN), Mason Cole (OL-Mich), Sean Welsh (OC-Iowa), Billy Price (OG-OSU)

Defense: Bryan Mone (NT-Mich), Darius Hamilton (DT-RU), Nyeem Wartman-White (MLB-PSU), Desmond King (CB-Iowa)

Specialists: KR/PR King

Brian was going to lose it if we left him one more obvious Buckeye so rather than lose my job, I'll just add the third guy returning from the core of an offense that's ranked 1st and 8th the last two years in rushing S&P+. Price won the crucial left guard spot as a freshman, but wasn't ready for Virginia Tech to roll out a Bear Front. Since then he's been literally in the center of college football's most brutal power B-gap offense. His thing is being SKRONG; even as a freshman Price was the strongest dude on the team.

But the agility is still a plus. SI's Andy Staples credited Price for 94 percent of "85 Yards Through the Heart of the Southland":

But few 300-pounders could pull through so much line of scrimmage trash as quickly and find the most immediate threat to the play in the second level. That’s what Price did when he pulled left from his left guard spot, turned the corner ahead of Elliott and shoved away Alabama’s Nick Perry before Perry could slow Elliott. Spencer’s block assured a gain of at least five yards. Price’s block sprung Elliott for an 85-yard touchdown.


American announcers are so boring.

Elflein justifiably deserves credit for his awesomesauce pulling, but the pivot man is just as important, and in two underclassman seasons Price has established himself as one of the best. He did pick up a bad (PFF gave him -2.2) day against Michigan State and Malik McDowell, but that's understandable given State was bringing their SAM up to the line every play and OSU kept running anyway. The following week Price gave Maurice Hurst his worst day yet, routinely blowing the miscast NT downfield and handing off to Decker for the pancake. Billy the Slob also got a few licks in at Wormley's expense as Ohio State broke tendency by having Price trap a ton. We'll see a lot more of that combo blocking and pulling this year with Elflein beside him instead of a vastly overrated Boren.

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Round 11, Pick 4: Cole Croston, OT, Iowa

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Fact: Iowa offensive tackles don't have arms.

Here is the state of offensive lines in the Big Ten: Off Tackle Empire ranked Michigan's the best in the league and they might be right and nobody in this draft wants anyone off the M line except Mason Cole. Also, this is the end of round 11 and zero (zero!) tackles have gone off the board.

If there's value in them there hills it's probably in Croston, who was a major part of the decent to good Iowa ground game a year ago. Despite having an array of backs so pedestrian they wear two pairs of shoes and zero rushing threat at QB, Iowa averaged a respectable 4.5 YPC a year ago, fifth in the league. PFF foreshadowed our lack of tackles in this draft by naming him first team All Big Ten despite a relatively paltry +6.5 overall grade. He gave up 19 pressures a year ago, which is... good. It's not amazing. But it's not bad!

Croston's getting some mid-round NFL draft buzz, and in this league that's as good as it's going to get.

How Things Stand

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Comments

SAMgO

July 19th, 2016 at 10:25 AM ^

Somewhat surprised Mike Weber is still on the board just given the nature of their offense and Bri'onte Dunn's departure. It's basically him, middling backup Curtis Samuel, and a true freshman (Antonio Williams) on their RB depth chart.

DenverBuckeye

July 28th, 2016 at 11:27 AM ^

I think you misunderstand Curtis' role in the OSU offense. He is an H, not a running back. They move him everywhere, but he spends most of his time in the slot. "Middling" is not the word any coach in the conference would use to describe him. In 2014, as a true freshman, he averaged 6.6 yards per carry and 8.6 per catch. In 2015, it was 7.8 yards per carry (17 carries) and 13.1 per catch (22 catches). He averaged more yards per carry than any UM RB and more yards per catch than Jake Butt. For his 75 career carries as a true freshman and sophomore he's averaging 6.9 yards per and has 7 TDs. He would likely be the starting RB at UM.

Ron Utah

July 19th, 2016 at 2:39 PM ^

I'm not sure how he can achieve that at this point.  It's a bad year for talent on offense in the conference in general, and Brian still needs a QB, a WR, and a RB.  If I'm him, I'm looking hard at De'Veon Smith or Devine Redding and waiting as long as I can to take Armstrong or Wes Lunt.  O'Korn is a big risk as he may not win the job.

But his other WR is going to be bad.  It's a down year for WRs in the conference in general, and the best five and Reilly have already been taken.

What may be worse, he's only got one OL.

Yes, Brian's defense is by far the best, but his offense is awful.

Michigan Arrogance

July 19th, 2016 at 11:00 AM ^

/complaints

This series always goes like 3 posts longer than I expect, partly b/c you feel like you have to go 25 rounds deep, partly b/c you started it like June 5th.

/complaints

 

Than said, I really feel like the determining factor will be who picks the best back up long snapper

michiganinmd

July 19th, 2016 at 11:11 AM ^

Breakdown by school:

Michigan - 12

Ohio State - 7

Iowa - 5

Penn State - 3

Indiana – 3

Northwestern -3

Nebraska - 2

Wisconsin - 2

Illinois - 1

Maryland - 1

Michigan State – 1

Minnesota - 1

Rutgers - 1

Purdue - 1

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July 19th, 2016 at 12:25 PM ^

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kevin holt

July 19th, 2016 at 1:23 PM ^

Finally someone took Gary. I think I've complained in the comments on every one of these posts that he was still on the board. We know, we know, you're trying to avoid being homers. Mission accomplished on that front. GARY!

kevin holt

July 19th, 2016 at 4:34 PM ^

It's not about what DEs were picked ahead of him. There are many many other players that are huge question marks by comparison. "unproven true freshman" doesn't really apply here. I'm sorry but the postseason Draftageddon posts will be like "how did we let Rashan MFin Gary go past the first 20 (or 10 or 5) picks?"

Ron Utah

July 19th, 2016 at 3:27 PM ^

Just one man's opinion, but here's how I see it so far:

Offense:

  1. Seth.  Seth has the best offense by a country mile.  An amazing interior OL, a Heisman contender at QB, a RB with more talent than any other in the conference, and two virtually uncoverable WRs.  Finding a TE and some OTs won't be easy, but who cares?  This line-up is stacked.
  2. Ace.  2 and 3 are much closer together, but Ace found the only other QB in the conference that we know is at least above-average.  Saquon Barkley is very good at football, and Chesson likely finishes the year as a 1st-team All-B1G selection (if not, it's only because he was sharing with Darboh or injured).  Bailey is an excellent OG.  Ace's line won't be great--neither will his second WR--but a decent QB and two pass-catching threats pair nicely with his RB.
  3. Adam.  Though he lacks a QB, Adam has two excellent OL players to go with Darboh and Justin Jackson, who is one of the most underrated players in the B1G.  Reilly is my least favorite selection to this point in the draft.  Yes, the pickings are getting slim at WR, but there is more value elsewhere.  Adam will be stuck with either Armstrong, Lunt, or hoping he picks the right Michigan QB.
  4. Brian.  It's getting late early for Brian's offense.  If someone else pulls a Brian and selects LJ Scott, our fearless leader is stuck with De'Veon Smith or Devine Redding as his RB.  Westercamp and Butt are great players, but who's throwing to them, and behind what line?  Croston might be the best OT in the conferene, but I don't see how he'll find an interior that can survive against the bevy of great DTs

Defense:

  1. Brian.  There's a reason his offense sucks: he's been killing it on the other side of the ball.  Brian's DL should all be All-B1G this year, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that three of those four are first-teamers.  Conley and Likely can hang with just about any WR in the conference (thought Seth's pair is pretty tough to cover).  To top it all off, he's got two great LBs.  Honestly, there is almost no way for anyone to supplant Brian's defense--he can take leftovers for his final three positions.
  2. Adam.  After the clear leader, it gets tougher to discern who has the best squad.  I think Adam has a slight edge over Ace here.  A big reason for that is that he has two excellent pass-rushers that will have the advantage over every OT they face in the conference.  On top of that, he's got a brutal penetrator in Hurst.  He's also already selected two CBs and will have the second-best pair there (behind Brian).  Biegel was a fine pick as well.
  3. Ace.  Ace is just a tick behind Adam.  His interior DL is amazing, with Glasgow (the most underrated player on Michigan's team and probably in the conference, if not the entire country) and Replogle.  Hubbard is also a great player.  But what really gives his defense a boost (and keeps him in contention for the #2 defense) is the LBs: Peppers and Jewell aren't just great, they're versatile.  Both can blitz.  Both can cover.  If Ace gets Shelton, I'd move him ahead of Adam.  In fact, if Ace focuses on defense the rest of the way, he's got the only unit that could even be compared to Brian's, since Adam's group lacks a guy that can cover as much field or be as useful as Peppers.
  4. Seth.  Seth is really good at this.  Every year he finds a way to build a contender with great value and smart strategy.  In fact, his defense is not fourth in quality, it's just last in quantity.  His interior is SKRONG with Hamilton and Mone, and both of those picks were excellent values.  Desmond King might be the best CB in all of college football, let alone the B1G.  And NWW is the kind of LB that's in on every play.  If Seth can find more value on defense, he'll win another Draftageddon.

My Rankings:

  1. Seth.  Best offense.  High-quality defense (and, unlike offense, there is still talent to be had on defense).  My guess is that Seth wins this thing again.
  2. Brian.  There is very little separating the rest of the pack.  Based on postseason awards, I'd pick Brian to come in second.  That said, I'm deeply concerned about his offense, which really has no chance of being anything other than pretty good.  But there's value in Will Likely beyond his CB skills, and that's Brian's worst defender.  Westercamp, Butt and--if he gets him--LJ Scott  are all likely first or second-team B1G selections, and Butt will be a Mackey finalist if he stays healthy.  Croston will probably be All-B1G by default.
  3. Ace.  If you asked me which team I'd take after Seth's, it's definitely Ace's.  Functional QBs are kind of important, and Ace has the only other one.  Barkley, Chesson, and Kittle round out a solid skill group on offense, and Bailey is a great player as well.  On defense, Ace has the 2nd-best interior DL.  And Peppers.  Hubbard, Myrick, and Jewell are among the best value selections in the draft so far.  My concern for Ace is that guys like Replogle and Glasgow won't be noticed by the awards crews as much they should be.  But this is my second-favorite team.
  4. Adam.  I am a sucker for line play, and Adam has it.  His two OL are likely first-team All-B1G selelctions.  Charlton and Smoot are almost certain to be All-B1G in some form.  Jourdan Lewis might be the best CB in the country.  Justin Jackson is a very good RB.  So what's the problem?  Hurst and Reilly are almost certain to miss any post-season awards.  While I think Hurst is a great player, if we're not going by PFF grades (and instead using awards) he's in trouble because of the depth of Michigan's DL.  Also, his QB will be a question mark and, Reilly is my least favorite pick of the draft.  If he really wanted a WR--and I'm not certain that's where the value is now--I like several guys more: Samuel, Shelton, and even VandeBerg (who will have nice stats by default).

Overall, there have been fewer reaches this year than last, and the PFF grades are awesome.  As one who loves this segment, thanks to our writers for the content and dialogue.

Ron Utah

July 19th, 2016 at 6:15 PM ^

I like Ace's team, but his QB, while clearly the 2nd-best option (because Michigan doesn't know who will start) is still just above-average.  He's got a great RB and a great WR, only one OL so far, and a pretty good TE.

His defense is only very good or great players...but tell me this, can Jaylen Myrick shut down Godwin or Cobbs?  Peppers will busy dealing with Barrett and Clement, and Seth's interior OL can hold up against any DL in the league or even the country.

Put it this way: Barrett is a legitimate Heisman contender.  Clement was a legitimate Heisman contender last year, and if he can stay healthy could be this year.  Godwin and Cobbs are impossible to cover consistently.  With Seth's OL and skill players so far, I don't see who can stop him.  In today's college football, there is no stopping an offense like that.  Seth's group would easily be the best in the country.  Ace's is good, but I'm not sure it's even better than Michigan's defense.

Seth's defense is also excellent.  He's only got four guys, but King matches up with Chesson, and Bailey can only block Glasgow or Replogle.

While I hate to admit it, JT Barrett was, by far, the most valuable player in this draft.  There just aren't any other QBs in the league that are top-tier players.  While I love Peppers and Lewis as much as anyone, there are other great LBs and CBs in the B1G.  There aren't any other great QBs.

FWIW, I really like Ace's team and believe it's the second-best group...but if you're going by postseason awards, I think Brian is ahead of him.

Michigan4Life

July 21st, 2016 at 8:25 PM ^

Ace took a ton of players who are destined to get drafted at 1st-3rd rounds. JT Barrett may be the better college QB, but CJ Beathard is just as good and is a better NFL prospect than Barrett (NFL scouts aren't high on Barrett and currently have him as a 7th round pick).

NFL draft prospects:

Ace: Peppers (1st), Barkley (not draft eligible but NFL scouts already has him on the watch list for 2018 draft), Chesson (2nd/3rd round), Beathard (2nd/3rd), Replogle (2nd), Hubbard (1st/2nd), Myrick (4th/5th), Jewell (3rd/4th)

Seth: Kind (1st), Cole (3rd), Godwin(4th/5th), Hamilton (2nd/3rd), Cobbs (6th/7th), Clements (3rd/4th), Price (3rd)

As you can see Ace has more higher end players and it's evenly distributed on both sides while Seth is skewed towards on the offensive side.

Brian defense is amazing, no doubt, but the offense is going to be awful even with Jake Butt on the team. The available B1G offensive skill players are really lacking.

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